The Bankwatch

Tracking the consumer evolution of financial services

Memo to NSA – this is no longer 1981

This is interesting.  NSA is using a 1981 Presidential order to justify mobile phone surveillance.

NSA cites Reagan-era executive order to justify collection of cell-phone location data

The National Security Agency on Friday cited a 1981 executive order signed by then-President Ronald Reagan as the authority under which it is collecting location data daily from tens of millions of cell phones around the world.

However this little statistic makes that claim questionable at best.

The mobile phone has a longer history than many might think. 30 years ago, on 10 November 1981, NMT – Nordic Mobile Telephone – the world’s first fully automatic mobile phone system, was launched in Oslo.

So while the original order probably made sense and I would estimate was based on extending existing powers of surveillance over paper mail and landlines to this brand new thing called mobile, no-one then could have understood the exponential explosion of connectivity that mobile has brought.  Lets keep in mind that mobile in 1981 was the size of a backpack or heavy briefcase, and cost several thousand dollars.

I am ok with western national security services and their power.  But this rationale using a 1981 order to justify 2013 surveillance is a bit of a stretch.

Written by Colin Henderson

December 7, 2013 at 00:34

Posted in Uncategorized

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